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connection, who evidently strives to soothe rather than to stimulate the revolutionary frenzy.
Dr. Thornwell is perhaps the foremost mind, just now, in the state of South Carolina. His misfortune is that having been born and brought up there, and having lived always in that most peculiar atmosphere, he has never outgrown the provincialism of his education. To him South Carolina is as completely "the celestial empire" and the "central flowery kingdom," as China is to a learned Mandarin at Pekin. When we met him on a former occasion,* he was one of our countrymen, an American citizen, to whom were due the courtesies that belong to such a relation. To-day the question is pending whether he is a citizen of a foreign and hostile state, or a traitor to the government of his country and ours. We have a right, therefore, to speak of him as freely as if he were an Austrian bishop or a Turkish mollah. Whether by his treason, (his, for if there has been treason in South Carolina, he was accessory before the fact,) or by a rightful and constitutional act to which he was consenting,-the tie of a common citizenship between him and us is broken.
The Fast-day on which the sermon before us was pronounced, must not be confounded with the Fast-day observed in the United States on the 4th of January. So much of Puritanism has South Carolina inherited from the New England influence which was infused into that State at its beginning, that the custom of appointing fasts by public authority is still a custom there, as it is in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Wednesday, the 21st of November, was appointed by the legislature of the State, and proclaimed by the Governor, "as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer." On that occasion, when the purpose of attempting a subversion of our national government and a dissolution of the Union had already been pronounced, and was waiting only for the formality of being registered by a convention, the sermon now before us was delivered. The plan of the sermon, abridged but given as
* New Englander, 1854, pp. 93–124.
closely as possible in the preacher's own language, is as follows:
“South Carolina, as an organized political community, prostrates herself this day before God. It is a time of danger, of blasphemy and rebuke, and imitating the example of Hezekiah, [in the text, Isaiah xxxvii, 7,] she rends her clothes, covers herself with sackcloth, and comes into the house of the Lord." "It is a day of solemn worship in which the State appears as a penitent, and lays her case before the judge of all the earth." Two points are announced as those to which the attention of the hearers will be directed; "first, the spirit in which we should approach God, and second, the errand on which we should go.
"I. As the individual, in coming to God, must believe that He is and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him, so the State must be impressed with a profound sense of His all-pervading providence, and of its responsibility to Him as the moral ruler of the world."
"II. The errand which brings us before God this day" is "fasting, humiliation, and prayer. These terms define the worship which we are expected to present. Fasting is the outward sign, penitence and prayer are the inward graces.” These three are the subordinate topics under the second head: 1. Fasting, its symbolical value: 2. Humiliation or penitence, the State being represented as a moral person," bound to the spiritual duty of repentance and confession: 3. Prayer for "Divine guidance and Divine strength for the future," inasmuch as "States are no more competent than individuals to discharge their duties without the grace of God."
The application is made "by signalizing [?] the sins which it behooves us to confess, and by designating the blessings which it behooves us to implore."
It would be curious, and perhaps not unprofitable, to scrutinize Dr. Thornwell's somewhat singular language on the subject of state religion. His account of the matter seems to be, not that the authorities of South Carolina had called upon the religious people of that State, as individual worshipers, in all their diverse forms of faith and worship, to unite in humiliation before God, and in supplication for the commonwealth, but that the state "herself," in her mystic personality, was performing acts of spiritual religion. The language which evangelical preachers and writers use in commending the call and the offer of the gospel to individual souls, is used by him as if the state of South Carolina, in her political sovereignty, were capable of repentance and of faith in the same sense in which an individual is summoned in Christ's name to repent and to be justified by faith. We would not press this criticism; nor would we hold the preacher responsible for inferences which he might disown; but we must say that such lan
guage as he uses about state faith, state repentance, and state prayer, is of dangerous tendency in regard to the interest of spiritual religion. Men who are accustomed to hear such language from the pulpit, are in danger of falling into fatally erroneous habits of thought about religion as a personal experience.
Yet, in saying this, we do by no means imply (as Dr. Thornwell might perhaps understand us to imply) that "the notion of sin is not capable of being predicated of the maladministration of the state." There may be sinful legislation in a state; sinful decisions and decrees in its courts of justice; sinful deeds and counsels in the executive administration of its government. But whose is the sin? Who are responsible for it in foro conscientia? Who are to give account of it at the bar of God? When Israel, in the reign of Ahab, had become an idolatrous state, that idolatry was sin; but whose sin was it? Was Elijah guilty of it? Were those seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal, guilty of it? So whenever sin is "predicated of the mal-administration of the state," whether that state be a monarchy, an oligarchy, or a democracy, the responsibility for that sin rests always upon the individual sinners who acted in it or consented to it. The state is not a scape-goat to bear away into some metaphysical wilderness the sins of the individual men and women by whomwhether directly or ever so indirectly-that "mal-administration of the state" was brought about; nor, on the other hand, is the state a "federal head," whose sin is imputed to those who had no part in it. We could wish that Dr. Thornwell had brought this view of state sin a little more closely to the consciences of his hearers than he seems to have done. All those parts of the discourse which speak of national sins and state sins would have been far more effective, if each individual hearer had been put upon inquiring for himself, How far am I responsible for these sins?-does God know that I have had no part in them, and have never consented to them, but have protested against them, and have used my influence in the state for the removal of all its iniquities of government or of public sentiment? It was a bold thing in the preacher to quote as
he did, in the hearing of a South Carolina assembly, those terrible words of God by the prophet Isaiah, "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burthens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?" But had the hearers been made to feel more distinctly that the responsibility to God for every sin which can be "predicated of the mal-administration of the state," rests not upon the mystic personality of the state, but upon individual sinners,-the repetition of those awful words would have touched a deeper and more sensitive nerve in the conscience of every hearer.
Undertaking to "signalize the sins" which were to be confessed on that day of penitence, the preacher says, "We must look at ourselves in a double light, first, as a member of this Confederacy;"***"and in the next place, as a particular commonwealth, a perfect state in ourselves;" and in order “to appreciate the sins which attach to us in our unity as a confederated people," he propounds the South Carolina theory of "the peculiar structure of our government"-a theory which makes the Constitution of the United States nothing but a treaty, and the Union itself nothing but a confederacy of sovereigns, each jealously retaining all its separate sovereignty, and each having a sovereign right to withdraw from the alliance at its own discretion. This preposterous theory, which the most eminent statesmen and jurists of South Carolina, thirty years ago, rejected and refuted,* but to which the erratic genius of Calhoun gave a local popularity, has become at last, partly by the great influence of Dr. Thornwell himself, the theory almost universally held in that and some of the adjoining states; and from the position which that theory gives, the preacher surveys "the sins which attach to us as a confederate people." Assuming that the Constitution of the United States is to be carried into effect simply by the good faith of the states, he charges upon "the non-slaveholding states " a breach
* Of the eminent men in South Carolina, who, at the period referred to, contended against the doctrine that the citizen owes allegiance only to his own state, and not at all to the aggregate sovereignty of the Union,-one honored survivor remains, the venerable patriot, JAMES L. PETIGRU.
of faith in two particulars. "They have been reluctant to open the territories to the introduction of slaves, and have refused to restore fugitives to their masters."
Reversing for convenience' sake the order in which these two alleged violations of the Constitution are mentioned, we take the liberty of saying in regard to the second, that the allegation is grossly incorrect in point of fact. To say that the nonslaveholding states have refused to restore fugitives to their masters, is to say what is not true. According to the Constitution of the United States, as its interpretation has been fixed by Southern judges, the non-slaveholding states have nothing to do in regard to fugitives from service in the slave states. That whole matter belongs to the government of the Union; and nobody complains that the Federal government, under whatever President, has shown any want of fidelity or alacrity in the performance of that duty. Some of the free states have made laws to protect their own free inhabitants against being kidnapped under the forms of a fugitive-slave law framed for the very purpose of insulting their just antipathy to a slavecode; but no state has refused, or (so long as the Constitution shall stand in its present interpretation) can "refuse to restore fugitives to their masters." Those very laws carry on their face the protestation that they are not to be construed as interfering with the surrender of any fugitive from service; and, as everybody knows, any enactment contrary to that Constitutional stipulation is acknowledged in every free state to be ipso facto void.
As for the charge that the non-slaveholding states have broken faith, and dissolved the Union, in that "they have been reluctant to open the territories to the introduction of slaves," we are willing to confess, in behalf of the free states and the good people thereof, the fact that they have been exceedingly reluctant on that point. But we deny the principle that such "reluctance" is a breach of faith. Dr. Thornwell knows that, at this moment, every territory of the United States is "open to the introduction of slaves," so far as any prohibition by act of Congress, or by attempted legislation of the free states, is concerned. He knows that the people of the free